SSE could invest £40bn ‘assuming supportive policy’

SSE plc, the Perth-based energy infrastructure giant, has responded to the news that the UK government is proposing to build new gas plants to improve energy security.

The UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) said new gas plants will be needed beyond 2030, with energy minister Claire Coutinho expected to set out a new strategy for gas in a speech to be delivered at Chatham House in London.

Coutinho is expected to say: “Without gas backing up renewables, we face the genuine prospect of blackouts … We will not let ourselves be put in that position.

“And so, as we continue to move towards clean energy, we must be realistic.”

SSE’s Chief Commercial Officer Martin Pibworth said: “Sensible reform of electricity markets can deliver the cleaner and more secure energy system the British public overwhelmingly supports and unlock billions of pounds of investment and thousands of good jobs across the UK.

“Clear, consistent and predictable policy is key to delivering these benefits and that’s why it is important we build on the current GB system.

“We are glad to see nodal pricing being taken off the table and look forward to the objective assessment of the benefits of the evolution of the national market.

“Any final proposed reforms should pass a simple test: do they speed up investment and delivery?

“Independent analysis by LCP has suggested uncertainty caused by significant changes to market design could add c.£45bn to the cost of capital for every 1 percentage point increase in financing costs; a price ultimately paid by consumers.

“As the UK’s Clean Energy Champion, SSE could invest more than £40bn in the next decade, assuming a supportive policy environment.

“We want to get on with it. We look forward to working with policymakers on designing the practical reforms needed to speed up delivery.”

On gas plants, Pibworth said: “This is welcome recognition of the pressing need for new flexible capacity from the end of the decade.

“However, the Government must establish concrete tests to ensure any new development is capable of rapid decarbonisation to avoid locking in carbon emissions and to deliver a clean power system.”

Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: “The government’s cunning plan to boost energy security and meet our climate goals is to make Britain more dependent on the very fossil fuel that sent our bills rocketing and the planet’s temperature soaring.”